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Why Mulching Mowers Are Better

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by PlantscapeSolutions, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,009

    I would say as many as nine out of ten companies don't run mulching mowers. I realize on large commercial properties the contracts are bid to death so getting done quickly is a must. Mulching can slow you down too much and hurt your profit margin. On crappy properties blowing the over grown stuff out the side is a must as well so you don't bog the mower and clog up the deck.

    But for those of us that won't set foot on a crappy property and do only nice irrigated properties mulching is the way to go. All an open chute does is end up blowing crap in the flower beds and increase your cleanup time. Or you waste time trying to mowing the entire yard so the chute faces away from the beds.

    Eventually you find yourself mowing a confined strip of grass where you have no choice but to do a drive by on the beds and hose them down with grass clippings. I don't care how good you are at blowing you can't get 100% of the grass out. Over time the buildup of grass in the beds gets worse and worse. Plus your wasting time trying to blow out a mess that didn't need to happen in the first place.

    The drawback of mulching is that tall grass is more of a challenge for the mowers. Tall grass can lead to Mohawks and a double cut occasionally. But 90% of the time the mulching mower will save you time on the blowing required.

    The other huge befit of mulching is that the grass is cut up to a fraction the size of a mowers that ejects the grass. The much smaller particles of grass decompose much quicker and the mower does a better job of forcing the clipping down to the soil level. Mulching mowers do a much better job of minimizing the buildup of clippings in the yard because the smaller clippings decompose more quickly.

    On St. Augustine properties keeping the decaying thatch level to a minimum is a must. Excess thatch can lead to an increased chance of having an issue with lawn fungus. The thatch can hold water and moisture on top of the soil where you don't want it to be.
  2. gene gls

    gene gls LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,213

    As long as you are happy with your mower thats what counts the most. Just don't move to my area with your mulcher.
  3. georgiagrass

    georgiagrass LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 970

    We mulch or catch. Wouldn't dream of side discharge mowing. How ugly is that?
  4. santafe

    santafe LawnSite Member
    Messages: 191

    I have been considering a mulching deck. but I don't want to be slowed down when I don't have to be. Would a cover thing-a-ma-bob over the chute that moves up and down as needed do the trick for blowing into mulch beds.:confused:
  5. Swampy

    Swampy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,435

    Catching the clippings is robbing the grass from free nutrients.

    Up here in the northern states I don't have to much of a problem of clippings laying on top of the grass to much. I may spend maybe a few extra minutes double cutting a small area, though I don't double cut the entire yard either.

    Think of this also if your cutting and you get excessive clippings. Maybe either you should raise your cutting height as your breaking the "1/3 Law" or increase the number of cuttings for the property.
  6. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    Here in the north, mulching just doesn't work...It's as plain and simple as that. The whole concept isn't everything it's cracked up to be. For Joe homeowner, who can get out on his lawn every 3 days during the growing season, fine. But even then, the conditions have to be just right; absolutely no moisture on the grass, and no overgrowth in ratio to the thickness. When you're in every 5 to 7 days,...forget it. When you grow grass as thick as I do, it's bad enough with side discharge. You can be cutting 3/4 to 1 inch off a 4 inch lawn, and the discharge chute is going to be full. A mulching deck - of ANY type, wouldn't stand a chance...and that's in perfect conditions. As far as grass in the beds and stuff,..with experience, skill, and care, there is absolutely no reason for this to happen. Yes,..a few clippings get on the hard surfaces, and yes, a few may even drift into some bed areas...but not enough to be noticeable or to accumulate. Blowing clippings toward beds can ALWAYS be avoided. For narrow areas however, we vacuum - from the word get go.
  7. waters lawn care

    waters lawn care LawnSite Member
    from alabama
    Messages: 128

    I always run mulching blades for normal discharge and mulching.When needed just cover/blank off discharge works great.
  8. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,009

    I'm not sure how good they work but there are some companies that adjustable mulching plates that can be used open or closed. I suspect a trickle of grass may come out of the non-factory mulching plates.
  9. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    Once again disingenuous advice which should be taken at little or no value.

    A large amount of considerations must be considered when determining the merits, or lack thereof, regarding mulching. Simply saying mulching is better is like saying my mower is better than yours = meaningless.

    Soil conditions, turf type, climate, irrigation and cultural practices - all have to be considered when determining to mulch verse side discharge verse bagging. The idea that mulching returns nutrients to the soil and benefits the turf is highly site specific and is highly dependent upon a wide varieties of site conditions.

    All of this said, on the sites I have maintained after almost twenty years as a Turfgrass Agronomist I observe an increase in disease and insect pressure when these sites are mulched rather than either bagging or side discharging, particularly on some C3 turf species and on all C4 turf species due to the conditions present at these sites.

    So take the original poster's comments with a very small grain of salt and understand the prevalent conditions at the sites you maintain then operate accordingly.
  10. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,222

    Hey, another pro from the north who gets it.

    Have quite a few competitors that use mulching decks exclusively. They end up wasting a LOT of time blowing out clumps, cleaning up drives and walks.

    I've tried them before and it just doesn't work for us. Under perfect conditions, sure, but that happens how often?

    Not sure how so many of us have made it in business so long without Plantscapes advice and wisdom on the only way to do things.

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